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An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge


Piers is qualified in medicine, in biological anthropology and medical history.

  • He has taught as a lecturer at Imperial College London and the University of Sydney before moving to Cambridge in 2009. 
  • From 2011-2020 he taught the course on Human Evolution and Health in the Department of Archaeology.
  • Piers is co-editor of the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, and is on the editorial board of PostMedieval: a Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies.
  • He is founding editor of the Cambridge University Press book series Cambridge Texts in Human Bioarchaeology and Osteoarchaeology.
  • President of the Paleopathology Association 2015-17, the worldwide organisation for the study of ancient diseases.



1) Ancient Parasites and Dysentery

  • Piers' research interest is to identify when and how parasites and dysentery came to cause disease in humans, how we spread these parasites around the planet, and what impact these diseases had upon human evolution and civilizations in the past.
  • He is Director of the Ancient Parasites Laboratory in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge. Techniques employed are predominantly digital light microscopy and and ELISA. Samples analysed are from archaeological excavations around the world, including latrines, cesspools, coprolites and the sediment from the pelvic area of human skeletal remains from past populations.


 2) Paleopathology

  • Piers also studies infectious disease from the lesions in human skeletal remains - e.g. treponemal disease (syphilis), tuberculosis, leprosy.


3) Bubonic Plague.

  • Piers is co-investigator on the Wellcome Trust funded project 'After the Plague: Health in Medieval Cambridge'. This 4 year project aims to determine the biological consequences of the medieval Black Death (1348-1352 AD) upon the population of Britain by comparative analysis of the skeletal remains of those who survived with those who died.


Key publications: 


Books on Infectious Disease:

Mitchell, P.D. Parasites in Past Civilisations and their Impact Upon Health. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge 2023.

Mitchell, P.D. (ed.) Sanitation, Latrines and Intestinal Parasites in Past Populations. Routledge: Abingdon, 2015.


Selected Articles on Infectious Disease: 

Dittmar, J.M., Mitchell, P.D., Cessford, C., Inskip, S., Robb, J. (2023) Tuberculosis before and after the Black Death (1346-1353 CE) in the Hospital of St John the Evangelist in Cambridge, England. Tuberculosis 143: 102401 doi: 10.1016/ 

Franklin, E., Mitchell, P.D., Robb, J. (2023) The Black Death in Hereford: A demographic analysis of the cathedral 14th century plague mass graves and associated parish cemetery. American Journal of Biological Anthropology 182: 452-466. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.24838 

Fujita, H., Mitchell, P.D., Shin, D.H. (2023) 医学的見地からみた都市化とヒトの疾病 (Urbanization and human diseases from medical perspectives). 都市化の古病理学 Archaeology Quarterly 44 (special issue entitled Paleopathology of Urbanization): 41-50. [in Japanese] 

Mitchell, P.D., Wang, T., Billig, Y., Gadot, Y., Warnock, P., Langgut, D. (2023) Giardia duodenalis and dysentery in Iron Age Jerusalem (7th-6th centuries BCE). Parasitology 150: 693-699. doi: 10.1017/S0031182023000410 

Mitchell, P.D., Yeh, H.-Y. (2023) Intestinal parasites at the Xuanquanzhi Relay Station on the Silk Road 2,000 years ago. In: Melhorn, H., Wu, X., Wu, Z. (eds.) Infectious Diseases Along the Silk Roads. Springer: Cham. p.131-139. Doi: 10.1007/978-3-031-35275-1_9 

Rabinow, S., Deforce, K., Mitchell, P.D. (2023) Continuity in intestinal parasite infection in Aalst (Belgium) from the medieval to early modern period (12th-17th centuries). International Journal of Paleopathology 41:43-49. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpp.2023.03.001. 

Ledger, M.L., Mitchell, P.D. (2022) Evolutionary perspectives on human parasitic infection, from ancient parasites to modern medicine. In: Plomp, K., Roberts, C., Elton, S., Bentley, G. (eds) Paleopathology and Evolutionary Medicine: An Integrated Approach. Oxford University Press: Oxford, pp.204-221. 

Ledger, M.L., Mitchell, P.D. (2022) Parasites and human health at Vagnari. In: M. Carroll (ed.) The Making of a Roman Imperial Estate: Archaeology in the Vicus at Vagnari, Puglia. Archaeopress: Oxford, p.209-214. 

Mitchell, P.D., Anastasiou, E., Whelton, H., Bull, I., Parker-Pearson, M., Shillitto, L.-M. (2022) Intestinal parasites in the neolithic population who built Stonehenge (Durrington Walls, 2500 BCE). Parasitology 149: 1027-1033. doi: 10.1017/S0031182022000476 

Wang, T., Cessford, C., Dittmar, J.M., Inskip, S., Jones, P.M., Mitchell, P.D. (2022) Intestinal parasite infection in the Augustinian friars and general population of medieval Cambridge, UK. International Journal of Paleopathology 39: 115-121. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpp.2022.06.001 

Wang, T., Mitchell, P.D. (2022) Liver fluke infection throughout human evolution. GastroHep Advances 1(4): 500-507. doi: 10.1016/j.gastha.2022.02.027 

Rabinow, S., Wang, T., Wilson, R.J.A., Mitchell, P.D. (2022) Using parasite analysis to identify ancient chamber pots: an example of the fifth century CE from Gerace, Sicily, Italy. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 42: 103349. doi: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2022.103349. 

De Cupere, B., Speleers, L., Mitchell, P.D., Degraeve, A., Meganck, M., Bennion-Pedley, E., Jones, A.K., Ledger, M.L., Deforce, K. (2021) A multidisciplinary analysis of cesspits from late medieval and post-medieval Brussels, Belgium: diet and health in the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries. International Journal of Historical Archaeology doi: 10.1007/s10761-021-00613-8 

Deforce, K., Ledger, M.L., Derreumaux, M., Goffette, Q., Henrotay, D., Pigière, F., Wouters, W., Mitchell, P.D. (2021) Diet, hygiene and health in Roman period northern Gaul: A multidisciplinary study of a latrine from an artisan household in the vicus Orolaunum (Arlon, southern Belgium, c.250-280 CE). Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports doi: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102761

LedgerM.L., Micarelli, I., Ward, D., Prowse, T.L., Carroll, M., KillgroveK., Rice, C., Franconi, T., Tafuri, M.A., Manzi, G., Mitchell, P.D.(2021) Gastrointestinal infection in Italy during the Roman Imperial and Longobard periods: A paleoparasitological analysis of sediment from skeletal remains and sewer drains. International Journal of Paleopathology 33: 61-71. 

Mitchell, P.D., Rabinow, S.A. Maladies infectieuses intestinales et parasites au temps des croisades. In : Histoire du Ventre; Entrailles, Tripes et BoyauxEd. F. Collard and E. Samama. L’Harmattan : Paris. 2021, pp.195-208. 

Robb, J., Cessford, C., Dittmar, J.M., Inskip, S., Mitchell, P.D. (2021) The greatest health problem of the Middle Ages? Estimating the burden of disease in Medieval England. International Journal of Paleopathology 34: 101-112.

Graff, A., Jones, A., Bennion-Peddley, E., Ledger, M.L., Deforce, K., Degraeve, A., Byl, S., Mitchell, P.D. (2020) A comparative study of parasites in three latrines from Medieval and Renaissance Brussels, Belgium (14th-17th centuries).  Parasitology 147(13): 1443-1451.

Ledger, M.L., Rowan, E., Gallart-Marques, F., Sigmier, J.H., Sarkic, N., Redžić, S., Cahill, N.D.,  Mitchell P.D. (2020) Intestinal parasitic infection in the eastern Roman Empire during the Imperial Period and Late Antiquity. American Journal of Archaeology 124(4): 631-57.

Sabin, S., Yeh, H.Y., Pluskowski, A.G., Clamer, C., Mitchell, P.D., Bos, K. (2020) Estimating molecular preservation of the intestinal microbiome via metagenomic analyses of latrine sediments from two medieval cities. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B375: 20190576.

Eskew, W.H., Ledger, M.L., Lloyd A., Pyles, G., Gosker, J., Mitchell, P.D.(2019) Intestinal parasites from an Ottoman period latrine from Acre (Israel) dating to the early 1800s CE. Korean Journal of Parasitology 57(6): 575-580.

Ledger, M.L., Grimshaw, E., Fairey, M., Whelton, H.L., Bull, I.D., Ballantyne, R., Knight, M., Mitchell, P.D. (2019). Intestinal parasites at the Late Bronze Age settlement of Must Farm, in the fens of East Anglia, UK (9th century B.C.E.). Parasitology 146(12): 573-87.

Knorr, D., Smith, W., Ledger, M., Clapés, R., Peña-Chocarro, L., Mitchell, P.D.(2019) Intestinal parasites in six Islamic period latrines from 10th-11thcentury Córdoba (Spain) and 12th-13thcentury Mértola (Portugal). International Journal of Paleopathology 26: 75-83.

Ledger, M.L., Anastasiou, E., Shillito, L.-M., Mackay, H., Bull, I.D., Haddow, S.D., Knusel, C.J., Mitchell, P.D.(2019) Parasite infection at the early farming community of Çatalhöyük, Turkey (7100-6150 BC). Antiquity 93(369): 573-87.

Ledger, M.L., Mitchell, P.D. (2019) Tracing zoonotic parasite infections throughout human evolution. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology doi:10.1002/oa.2786.

Yeh, H.-Y., Cheng, C.J., Huang, C., Zhan, X., Wong, W.K., Mitchell, P.D.(2019) Discovery of Eurytremaeggs in sediment from a colonial period latrine in in Taiwan. Korean Journal of Parasitology 57(6): 595-599.

Zhan, X., Yeh, H.-Y., Shin, D.-H., Chai, J.-Y., Seo, M., Mitchell, P.D. (2019) Differential change in the prevalence of the AscarisTrichuris, and Clonorchis infection among past east Asian populations. Korean Journal of Parasitology 57(6): 601-605.

Ledger, M.L., Stock, F., Schwaiger, H., Knipping, M., Brückner, H., Ladstätter, S., Mitchell, P.D. (2018) Intestinal parasites from public and private latrines and the harbor canal in Roman period Ephesus, Turkey (1stc. BCE to 6thc. CE). Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 21: 289-97.

Anastasiou, E., Papathanasiou, A., Schepartz, L.A., Mitchell, P.D. (2018) Infectious disease in the ancient Aegean: intestinal parasitic worms in the neolithic to Roman period inhabitants of Kea, Greece. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 17: 860-64.

Mitchell, P.D. (2017) Human parasites in the Roman world: health consequences of conquering an empire. Parasitology 144: 48-58.

Williams, F., Arnold-Foster, T., Yeh, H.-Y., Ledger, M.L., Baeten, J., Poblome, J., Mitchell, P.D. (2017) Intestinal parasites from the 2nd-5th century AD latrine in the Roman baths at Sagalassos (Turkey). International Journal of Paleopathology 19: 37-42.

Yeh, H.-Y., Mitchell, P.D. (2016) Ancient human parasites in ethnic Chinese populations. Korean Journal of Parasitology 54(5): 565-72.

Yeh, H.-Y., Mao, R., Wang, H., Qi, W., Mitchell, P.D. (2016) Early evidence for travel with infectious diseases along the Silk Road: intestinal parasites from 2,000 year old personal hygiene sticks in a latrine at Xuanquanzhi relay station in China. Journal Archaeological Science: Reports 9: 758-64.

Mitchell, P.D. (2015) Human parasites in medieval Europe: lifestyle, sanitation and medical treatment. Advances in Parasitology 90: 389-420.

Yeh, H.-Y., Prag, K., Clamer, C., Humbert, J.B., Mitchell, P.D. (2015) Human intestinal parasites from a Mamluk Period cesspool in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem: potential indicators for long distance travel in the 15th century AD. International Journal of Paleopathology 9: 69-75.

Anastasiou, E., Lorentz, K.O., Stein, G.J., Mitchell, P.D. (2014) Prehistoric schistosomiasis parasite found in the Middle East. Lancet Infectious Diseases 14: 553-4.

Yeh, H.-Y., Pluskowski, A., Kalējs, U., Mitchell, P.D. (2014) Intestinal parasites in a mid-14th century latrine from Riga, Latvia: fish tapeworm and the consumption of uncooked fish in the medieval eastern Baltic region. Journal of Archaeological Science 49: 83-89.

Anastasiou, E., Mitchell, P.D. (2013) Paleopathology and genes: investigating the genetics of infectious diseases in excavated human skeletal remains and mummies from past populations. Gene 528(1): 33-40.

Anastasiou, E., Mitchell, P.D. (2013) Human intestinal parasites from a latrine in the 12th century Frankish castle of Saranda Kolones in Cyprus. International Journal of Paleopathology 3: 218-23.

Anastasiou, E. Mitchell, P.D. (2013) Simplifying the process for extracting parasitic worm eggs from cesspool and latrine sediments: a trial comparing the efficacy of widely used techniques for disaggregation. International Journal of Paleopathology 3: 204-7.

Mitchell, P.D., Yeh, H.-Y., Appleby, J., Buckley, R. (2013) The intestinal parasites of King Richard III. The Lancet 382: 888.

Mitchell, P.D. (2013) The origins of human parasites: exploring the evidence for endoparasitism throughout human evolution. International Journal of Paleopathology 3: 191-98.

Mitchell, P.D. (2013) Editorial: the importance of research into ancient parasites. International Journal of Paleopathology 3: 189-190.

Mitchell, P.D., Anastasiou, E., Syon, D. (2011) Human intestinal parasites in crusader Acre: evidence for migration with disease in the Medieval Period. International Journal of Paleopathology 1: 132-37.

Mitchell, P.D. (2011) Retrospective diagnosis, and the use of historical texts for investigating disease in the past. International Journal of Paleopathology 1: 81-88.

Mitchell, P.D. The spread of disease with the crusades. In: Between Text and Patient: The Medical Enterprise in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Ed. B. Nance and E.F. Glaze. Florence: Sismel 2011, p.309-330.

Mitchell, P.D., Stern, E., Tepper, Y. (2008) Dysentery in the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem: an ELISA analysis of two medieval latrines in the city of Acre (Israel). Journal of Archaeological Science 35(7): 1849-53. This study was reported in the news section of Science magazine, 30 May 2008, 320: 1139.

Mitchell, P.D., Huntley, J., Sterns, E. Bioarchaeological analysis of the 13th century latrines of the crusader hospital of St. John at Acre, Israel. In: Mallia-Milanes, V. (ed) The Military Orders: volume 3. Their History and Heritage. Aldershot: Ashgate 2008 p.213-23.

Mitchell, P.D., Tepper, Y. (2007) Intestinal parasitic worm eggs from a crusader period cesspool in the city of Acre (Israel). Levant 39: 91-5.

Mitchell, P.D. (2006) Child health in the crusader period inhabitants of Tel Jezreel, Israel. Levant 38: 37-44.

Mitchell, P.D. (2003) Pre-Columbian treponemal disease from 14th century AD Safed, Israel and the implications for the medieval eastern Mediterranean. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 121(2): 117-24.

Mitchell, P.D. The myth of the spread of leprosy with the crusades. In: The Past and Present of Leprosy. C. Roberts, K. Manchester, M. Lewis (eds). Oxford: Archaeopress. 2002 pp.175-81.

Mitchell, P.D. An evaluation of the leprosy of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem in the context of the mediaeval world. Appendix in: B. Hamilton, The Leper King and his Heirs: Baldwin IV and the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2000 pp.245-58. 

Runs the Cambridge Ancient Parasites Laboratory
Senior Research Associate, McDonald Institute, Department of Archaeology
Hospital Consultant (specialist) in NHS
Dr. Piers D Mitchell

Contact Details

Department of Archaeology
The Henry Wellcome Building
Fitzwilliam Street
Takes PhD students
Available for consultancy


Departments and institutes: